This early career award will fund the acquisition of a He system for automated degassing, isotope dilution and measurementof He for use in a new (U-Th)/He thermochronology facility in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder. This award will also fund three-years of technician support, and a plan is in place for future alternative sources of support for this new technician dedicated to this facility. With the exception of the capacity to degas minerals and analyze He, all other equipment and procedures necessary for (U-Th)/He analytical work are now established at CU, including protocols for mineral separation and selection, U-Th spiking and mineral dissolution, and U-Th analysis by ICPMS. This award will allow CU to come online efficiently as a complete (U-Th)/He facility.
(U-Th)/He thermochronology is a field that continues to expand its application to a broadening array of earth science problems. The potential for innovative studies using this tool is growing and the demand for these data by the earth science community is only increasing. The goals of a (U-Th)/He facility at CU-Boulder would be to provide the analytical capacity to support existing and planned research initiatives, support the research initiatives of CU faculty members and universities in the Rocky Mountain region, and provide hands-on training for students, postdoctoral fellows and professors in thermochronology techniques.
A (U-Th)/He facility at CU will have a significant impact in training scientists at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional level in the application and interpretation of geochronology and thermochronology data. A particular effort will be made to provide students with hands-on experience in thermochronology procedures as part of thesis research projects. No (U-Th)/He lab exists currently in the Rocky Mountain region, and this facility would expand the analytical capabilities in the region. A thermochronology facility at CU would further enhance the PI's ongoing efforts to incorporate effective approaches to teaching about deep time in her undergraduate and graduate teaching. The PI has a solid record of mentoring women in her lab, and has plans to facilitate the training of minorities through an existing NSF-funded project in Africa.